Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

May 16, 2019 |

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

A spa trip can be a wonderful way to celebrate the sacred bond between a mother and her daughter. If you’re looking for a spa where you can make lifelong memories with your mother or daughter, these top six spas will knock your socks off.

 

6 Great Spa Trip Destinations for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Many spas today offer mother-daughter packages, making them a popular choice for both spa trips and mother-daughter getaways. A spa trip has become a rite of passage for many young women today and these six destinations provide a memorable experience mothers and daughters can cherish.

 

1. Orlando, Florida.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Orlando is brimming with charming resorts and unforgettable properties. Whether you opt for an iconic hotel like the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World Resort, or an upscale spa at a lakeside retreat, you’ll enjoy making magical memories together in this enchanting city.

 

2. Ontario, Canada.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Take a trek up north to enjoy a mud masque, canoeing and yoga at a spa in Ontario. With an international flair, there’s much for moms and daughters to explore together in this intriguing city.

 

3. Cancun, Mexico.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

This beautiful city might not be the first place that springs to mind for a mother and daughter spa trip, but there are delightful resorts in Cancun that provide plenty of sand, sunshine, and relaxation without the drama of a spring break party. It’s an ideal setting for mothers and daughters to enjoy a restorative retreat together.

 

4. St. Augustine, Florida.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Explore America’s oldest continuously settled city in style with a mother-daughter spa trip. A warm climate and alluring hotels offer the ideal location for a mother-daughter getaway.

 

5. Charleston, South Carolina.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Brimming with history and southern charm, Charleston is a great getaway destination for a mother-daughter spa trip. Hotels in the area offer girls getaway packages from time to time that can help you make the most of your spa trip.

 

6. Tucson, Arizona.

Spa Trips: A Great Idea for a Mother and Daughter Getaway

Most often cited for its luxurious golf resorts, Tucson provides the perfect backdrop for a mother-daughter spa trip. Soak in the sunshine together and treat yourself in this easy-to-access destination.

 

Need help planning your mother-daughter spa trip? Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you put together the trip of a lifetime. Reach out to us today for help turning your mother-daughter getaway into a reality.

Tips for business travel in India

May 15, 2019 |

If your company does international business and has a global travel strategy, you have likely had to spend some time adjusting to various countries’ business norms. Here are some tips for business travel in India – pass them along to employees to ensure they have successful and productive business trips.

Visa and passport requirements for entry into India

In most cases, you’ll need a visa and valid passport to enter India. Here are India entry requirements for travelers from the U.S. and you can find information for U.K. travelers here.

What vaccinations do I need for business travel to India?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all travelers have the following vaccines:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Polio vaccine
  • Annual flu shot

Additional vaccines are recommended for some travelers, which can be found on the CDC website. This includes a possible regimen of prescription medication for malaria prevention, which is taken before, during and after the trip.

For even more information, see this article entitled “What vaccines and immunizations do you need for global travel?” from our partners at WorldAware:

Risks Associated with Vaccine-Preventable Diseases While Traveling     What vaccines and immunizations do you need for global travel? - WorldAware

Should you drink the water in India?

Yes, it’s very important to stay hydrated in a hot country such as India. Just be careful about the water you drink. This also includes ice! Only drink bottled water and check to be sure that the cap is sealed. Don’t forget the bottled water when brushing your teeth as well. If you’re not sure whether the drink you’ve received contains safe, filtered or bottled water, you may want to avoid it. Hot drinks like coffee and tea should be ok too.

Food safety in India

One of the biggest concerns people have while traveling in India is exposure to new bacteria that causes stomach cramping and other unpleasant symptoms. Here are a few quick tips to stay healthy while dining during your business travel:

  • Do not eat fruit that you have not peeled yourself.
  • Only eat foods that are served very hot and cooked all the way through.
  • Eat at busy places that your Indian business partners recommend for your safest options.

Greetings

Shaking hands isn’t traditionally a part of Indian culture, although businesspeople in Mumbai and other big cities might initiate hand-shaking to accommodate you. A standard greeting is a “Namaste,” during which you press your palms together just below your chin as if you’re praying, and bow slightly or nod. This is a safe greeting to use in any situation.

Make sure to first greet the most senior individual in the group, using his or her title. If you don’t know the title or the person doesn’t have one, use “Madam” or “Sir.” Always avoid calling people by their first names, unless asked to do so.

Gifts are often a part of first meetings, as many Indians believe they help one on their bath in the next life. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. Present them with both hands to the receiver. If you receive a gift, wait until later to open it. Additionally, present your business card upon first meeting.

In meetings

Developing good, trustworthy relationships is paramount when doing business in India.

Unless you’re meeting with a very young start-up, engineering or tech crowd, it’s important to dress very formally and conservatively in meetings. Be patient and avoid high-pressure strategies when in negotiation meetings. Be mindful that sometimes “yes” actually means “I’ve heard and understood what you’re saying,” not “I agree with you.” Pay attention to phrases like “I will try” or “Possibly.”

Don’t plan for more than one meeting per day. Often, meetings end with the expectation of drinks and a meal together, rather than one party rushing off for more business.

At dinner

Here are some tips surrounding culinary manners in India so you can successfully navigate the business dinner:

  • Don’t seat yourself at dinner; rather, wait for someone to indicate where you should sit.
  • Watch how others eat. In the city, you’ll likely be given a fork and spoon and use the fork to push food onto the spoon. In the country, you’re more likely to eat with your hands, using bread or rice to pick up the food.
  • Leave a little food on your plate – this indicates that you are full. A clean plate means you are still hungry.

Happy traveling!

Top 5 Wellness Travel Adventure Ideas

May 8, 2019 |

Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

Wellness travel is becoming the new adventure travel. What began as a trip to the spa, an on-property juice bar or an amped up gym has evolved into off-property wellness travel adventures.

 

What is Wellness Travel?

Technically speaking, wellness travel is defined as travel that allows the traveler to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing. That can be as simple as following popular wellness travel tips like drinking more water, exercising daily, getting enough sleep and making healthy dining choices while on the road.

According to the Global Wellness Summit, wellness travel is evolving into more of a ‘wellness retreat’ experience where travelers immerse themselves in a wellness saga playing the hero or explorer on an adventure. In these wellness adventures, travelers can embark on a nature hike at sunrise, enjoy meditation in a treehouse and soak in hours of spa treatments on rugged cliffs overlooking stunning sea views.

If that idea of wellness travel appeals to you, here are some of the top wellness travel activities to consider for your next travel adventure.

 

Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

When you’re trying to decide on a destination for wellness travel, a helpful place to start can be with a restorative activity you enjoy. These five wellness travel ideas will help you think through what wellness travel means to you.

 

1. Go Hiking.

Top 5 Wellness Travel Vacations

Many people enjoy hiking as a healthy way to relieve stress, connect with nature and clear the mind. While you could trek through a trail in your hometown, a hiking retreat through Moab in Utah, or across the rugged landscape of Iceland, the lush hillsides of Hawaii or the tropical trails of the Caribbean can be an excellent way to explore the world while incorporating wellness into your trip.

 

2. Take a Wellness Cruise.

Wellness Cruise

Cruising isn’t typically associated with wellness travel, but it’s beginning to as cruise lines develop wellness cruises. Blue World Voyages and others offer cruises that put yoga, healthy food and active excursions front and center.

 

3. Stretch Yourself on a Yoga Retreat.

Yoga Retreat

Put your mind, body and soul first on a yoga retreat. Costa Rica, Bali, Bhutan, Portugal and Peru are just a few of the destinations featuring yoga retreats. Learn a few new moves while enlightening yourself about the local culture on this wellness travel idea.

 

4. Hit the Road on a Cycling Trip.

Cycling Trip

If running is too hard on your joints and yoga isn’t your thing, consider a cycling adventure. Bike your way along the California coast or tour more exotic trails in France or New Zealand.

 

5. Escape the Workweek with a Weekend Wellness Getaway.

Spa Trip

If the idea of a week-long wellness travel trip sounds a bit too ambitious, dip your toes in the water of wellness travel with a weekend wellness getaway. Yosemite National Park in California, Los Cabos in Mexico or Scottsdale, Arizona are all popular destinations for weekend wellness getaways. Sip wine while painting, explore nature on a hike, engage in guided meditation or suit up for a sunset yoga class.

 

Need help planning your wellness travel trip? Our experienced travel advisors would love to help you create a relaxing, restorative getaway that satisfies your desire for wellness travel. Contact us today for help planning your next adventure!

An African Safari Adventure – Lions, Wildebeests and Giraffes, Oh My!

May 1, 2019 |

An African Safari Adventure – Lions, Wildebeests and Giraffes, Oh My!

Exhilarating, exciting, unexpected… And yes, peaceful. All words Michelle Holmes used to describe her tour of Africa. (Which included getting within 18 inches of a leopard while bouncing down a ravine in a Jeep. Peaceful, indeed!)

Holmes, Senior Director of Loyalty & Leisure at Travel and Transport, took a two-week Micato African safari to Kenya and Tanzania and found adventure travel in Africa to be quite amazing. With local, knowledgeable guides, Holmes traveled by plane, hot air balloon and truck to visit Aboseli National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Massai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

Each stop on this unforgettable African safari brought its own character—new ecosystems, animals, campsites and adventures.

Making Unforgettable Memories is Easy on an African Safari

Safari-goers get up close and personal with the animals.Each overnight site has its own vibe, from magnificent gardens at the Hemingway Nairobi to the unparalleled views of Larsens Camp in Samburu. The African safari party got up close and personal with dozens of different species.

Holmes laughs as she remembers resting outside while watching the animals drink at a nearby river, only to wake as her husband shooed away the baboon that had wandered over to her chair for a visit.

Within each reserve, truck drivers communicate over two-way radios they locate the animals. The experience is highly personalized, as the drivers focus on finding animals that safari-goers haven’t yet encountered.

Hearing about a nearby pride of lions, including some cubs—a slightly more difficult item to cross off the African safari bingo card—Holmes’ truck raced to the scene only to find fifteen trucks already there. Luckily, this part of her adventure travel in Africa wasn’t ruined as the mother lion didn’t seem disturbed by the attention. The appearance of safari trucks is an everyday occurrence in her life.

The safari animals didn't appear particularly disturbed by the safari vehicles.Holmes, however, rarely felt the presence of other safari parties. Partly due to her decision to travel in the low season, the lack of other tourists led Holmes to develop a heightened sense of the vastness of Africa, both as a continent and as a phenomenal location for adventure travel overseas.

Adventure Travel in Africa Offers Opportunity for Rare Animal Sightings

Despite all the wonderful animals — the rare Rothschild giraffes, forgetful warthogs, wildebeests, red dust-covered elephants, grinning hyenas, Cape buffalo, baby lions and more — Holmes says her experience on her African safari was “all about the people and the culture.” Micato Safari profits benefit local communities. Safari-goers have the wonderful opportunity to participate in this giving-back first-hand by visiting a Massai village, schools and community centers.

Among her remarkable experiences, Holmes and her safari group visited a Micato-built community center in a crowded, run-down and impoverished area of Nairobi. Browsing the books of the community library, Holmes came across a compilation of inspirational images and messages from people all over the world.

Michelle Holmes holds a book displaying her rainbow drawing from four years earlier.Leafing through the book, she realized that the images were familiar. Four years prior, at a conference of travel and leisure specialists, Holmes drew a rainbow, accompanied with an inspirational message at a session. She knew her picture and words were going to Africa, but she had no idea that, in a community center in Nairobi, she would open the book to the rainbow she’d drawn years ago.

Holmes praised the Micato employees at every location. From locals hired to use their sling shots to keep monkeys from stealing their food to the knowledgeable guides, she felt their experience enhanced hers. After asking if he ever got tired of doing the same African safari, one guide said, “No, we see it different every time because we see it through the eyes of our clients. We see their sense of awe.”

After exploring four preserves Holmes maintained her sense of awe at the grandeur of African nature. She’s planning her return already, saying the following phrase is true, “You can leave Africa, but Africa never leaves you.”

For more stunning images of Holmes’ adventure travel in Africa and great photos from our employee-owners, check out our Instagram.

If you’re thinking about planning your own African safari, our experts at Travel and Transport are ready to assist. Call one of our vacation travel advisors to explore your options.

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

April 24, 2019 |

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Do you want to explore adventure travel overseas in Asia that doesn’t include a hike up Mt. Everest? If so, we have five hidden gems in Asia where overseas adventure travel seekers can make unforgettable memories.

 

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Must-See Stops in Asia

From riding raging rapids and climbing swirling rock faces to swimming with sharks and kayaking through hidden caves, Asia offers plenty of thrilling opportunities for adventure travel. Get your heart racing with these five surefire itineraries for adventure travel in Asia.

 

1. Kayak Through Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Explore the caves that dot Ha Long Bay in this overseas adventure travel trip. While you’re there, paddle into shore for some rock climbing on Cat Ba’s stunning limestone cliffs.

 

2. Go River Rafting Along the Ayung River in Bali

There are more than 10 kilometers of rapids to explore in this picturesque Indonesian city. At the end of your thrilling ride through countryside villages and rice fields, you’ll get a workout climbing up the canyon through which you just sailed.

 

3. Go Rock Climbing in Railay

World famous rock climbing awaits adventure travel seekers in Krabi, Thailand. White sandy beaches and turquoise waters give way to rock faces featuring challenges for climbers of all skill levels.

 

4. Scuba Dive in Malapasuca, Philippines

If your idea of adventure travel overseas wouldn’t be complete without scuba diving or snorkeling of some sort, consider making Malapasuca in the Philippines one of the stops on your adventure travel itinerary. After going on a thresher shark dive, make your way to Moalboal and the Apo Reef for unforgettable underwater adventures.

 

5. Hike a Volcano in Malaysia

Adventure Travel Overseas: 5 Unforgettable Treks in Asia

Mount Kinabalau is waiting to be traversed in Malaysian Borneo. On this overseas adventure travel stop, you’ll take in two days of stunning views and breathtaking landscapes.

 

Not sure where to start?

Picking where to adventure travel overseas is fun; planning out all the details can be challenging. For help arranging your ideal itinerary, connect with one of our experienced travel advisors. We would love to help you map out the adventure travel trip of a lifetime!

Planning an Adventure Travel Trip? Our Expert Advice

April 17, 2019 |

How to Plan an Adventure Travel Trip

Our adventure travel specialists are here to help.

If you’re new to adventure travel or are considering planning your first adventure travel trip, you probably have a lot of questions, like: should I join an adventure travel program or strike out on my own? Where are the best adventure travel locations for first timers? What about insurance?

We have answers! We caught up with our adventure travel specialists Lisa Salloum (Urbandale, Iowa office), JoAnna Gonseth (Omaha, Nebraska HQ), and Wanda Worsley (Travel Design Lounge in Omaha) for answers to the most common questions about adventure travel.

 

Where are the best places to go for adventure travel?

While any location can be a great place for adventure, JoAnna says off the beaten path destinations seem to have more adventures to offer for avid adventure travelers. Lisa notes Africa and Iceland as destinations seeing a lot of traffic in 2019 and Wanda adds Costa Rica, New Zealand and Peru to that list.

 

When is the best time to book an adventure travel trip?

While any time is a good time for adventure travel, for those who like to plan, Lisa says getting your trip nailed down a year in advance prevents you from missing out on spaces that fill up fast.

 

Should I tackle adventure travel on my own or as part of a group?

The answer to this question really depends on your preferences and budget, yet JoAnna adds that group travel may be safer. “Activities like hiking or climbing are not recommended to be done alone,” she says.

Wanda notes that group travel offers extra support as well. “In addition to sharing an amazing experience with equally enthusiastic travelers, group adventure trips are a great way to learn of other destinations that fellow travelers have visited that would fit your interests.”

 

What adventure travel gear do I need to make my trip comfortable?

Wanda mentions that specialized gear is often provided when booking an adventure travel trip with travel partners, and Lisa recommends talking with one of our travel advisors. “Depending on the travel booked, we will provide the information,” she says. “Our destination experts are wonderful for providing suggestions.”

 

Do I need to purchase adventure travel insurance?

While the answer depends on the activities you are doing, Lisa recommends always getting travel insurance to protect your vacation investment from the unexpected and JoAnna adds that sometimes, specific insurance is necessary. “In some cases, you will need additional insurance to cover an extreme sport such as mountain climbing or a hot air balloon ride,” she says. “Otherwise, typical Travel insurance will cover most activities.”

 

What must I make sure to include on my adventure travel packing list?

While the list could become lengthy, Wanda limits essential to just a few items. “Pack sunscreen and clothing that allows you to layer based on the weather or altitude conditions.”

JoAnna adds a GoPro to the packing list as a “must for any adventure experience.”

 

Is adventure travel with a baby possible?

Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on the activities and recommendations of your pediatrician, so be sure to check with your child’s doctor. Beyond that, Lisa says some tour operators have age restrictions. “This might be a good time to have the little one spend some time with their grandparents for you to be able to experience the trip to its fullest.”

JoAnna says bringing a baby along could work, depending on the type of adventure travel you plan. “If the traveler is used to carrying packs while hiking, for example, then carrying a child would be one in the same and the trip will work out for everyone,” she says. “While children may get restless in a long car ride, they may have a different experience hiking in the outdoors and being able to move freely.”

 

Do you have a question about adventure travel that we didn’t cover here? Connect with us today. Our adventure travel specialists would love to answer all your questions and help you plan an unforgettable adventure travel trip!

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

April 10, 2019 |

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

From legendary ascents up icy peaks to surfing south of Lisbon, there is no shortage of options for brave souls up for adventure travel in Europe. Whether you’re looking to make new connections through adventure travel for singles or want a more leisurely pace with adventure travel for seniors, Europe is an ideal destination for an adventure travel trip.

Get your adrenaline pumping with these five can’t miss itineraries for adventure travel in Europe.

 

Five Amazing Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

If you’re considering adventure travel overseas, Europe is an ideal destination. Its diverse landscapes and rich history offer unforgettable experiences. Here are five of our favorite itineraries for adventure travel in Europe.

 

1. Climb the Matterhorn in Switzerland

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

If you’ve only ever seen the Disneyland version of this famous mountain peak, you’ll enjoy the thrill of climbing the real thing. Plan an adventure travel trip to the ski resort town of Zermatt during July, August or September for a doable overnight expedition to the peak and back.

 

2. See the Northern Lights in Iceland

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

If magnificent waterfalls, geysers, geothermal pools and northern lights sound enthralling, you will love adventure travel in Iceland. September through March is the best time of year to witness the Aurora Borealis firsthand. Plan a trip to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon along with the nearby crystal ice caves for an unforgettable adventure.

 

3. Speed Around Monaco in a Ferrari

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

Not all adventure travel in Europe has to involve hiking, biking or climbing to get your heart pumping. Driving a Ferrari with the top down around Monaco’s glitz and glamor is a satisfying adventure in its own right.

 

4. Cycle Through Classic Tour de France Climbs

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

If flying around hairpin turns at high speeds sounds like your kind of adventure travel in Europe, you’ll love cycling up and down the Alpe d’Huez, Col d’Izoard and Col du Galibier. Use the 12th-century village of La Grave as your basecamp for this stunning ride of a lifetime.

 

5. Ride the Perfect Wave in Portugal

5 Top Destinations for Adventure Travel in Europe

Comporta in southwest Portugal is a surfer’s paradise. Thirty miles of empty beaches dot its coastline, which is hugged by pine forests on its inland side. You’ll love surfing all day and exploring local fare in the surrounding villages by night.

 

Not sure where to go?

If adventure travel in Europe is up your alley, but you want some help planning your ideal itinerary, connect with one of our travel advisors. We would love to help you map out your overseas adventure travel dream!

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

April 3, 2019 |

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

South America is an adventure traveler’s dream come true. Its exotic jungles, ancient ruins and stunning landscapes make this continent home to some of the best adventure travel destinations in the world.

Here we highlight some of the best adventure travel destinations in South America.

 

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

For some travelers, the ideal vacation involves sipping something cool while relaxing in a hammock at an all-inclusive resort in Grand Cayman or the Caribbean. For others, a trip isn’t a vacation without veering off the beaten path.

If you crave adventure in exotic locations that put you up close and personal with nature or give you the opportunity to defy the ordinary, these adventure travel destinations in South America will excite you.

 

1. Ciudad Perdida, Colombia.

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

South America is a continent of extremes, which is part of what makes it home to so many of the best adventure travel destinations. A five-day trek through dense tropical rainforest to reach the famed ‘Lost City’ is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.

 

2. Atacama Desert, Chile.

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

Not all adventure travel must involve jungles or steep ascents to be invigorating. Chile’s Atacama Desert features volcanic geysers and enormous sand dunes; a voyage across it will have you feeling like a space traveler in uncharted territory on a distant moon. The high altitudes make this adventure travel destination particularly challenging. If you choose this trip, make sure to snap a few pics of the bold mineral lakes teeming with flamingos and spend at least one night stargazing; the sky absolutely explodes with constellations.

 

3. Ruta 40, Argentina. 

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

Regardless of your age, you can enjoy participating in a drive that has become a rite of passage for many Argentinians. The road, which is known as ‘La Cuarenta’ to locals, starts at Argentina’s southern tip and runs north for more than 5,000 km before finishing in Bolivia. Along the way, you’ll cross 20 national parks and see some of South America’s most scintillating scenery. TandT Pro tip: the best time to attempt this drive is between November and March.

 

4. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

See the island that sparked discovery for scientist Charles Darwin. Located about 1,000 km west of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are home to an array of plants and animals not found elsewhere on earth. Make sure you strap on your scuba diving gear to see the world beneath the surface; the waters surrounding the Galapagos islands are just as stunning and unique as the land above.

 

5. Death Road, Bolivia.

5 of the Best Adventure Travel Destinations in South America

Tempt fate cycling down the world’s most dangerous road. Hairpin turns and a total absence of guardrails have earned this dangerous road its name. More than 200 people die each year traversing it, yet thousands escape unscathed. Just take it slow and be smart; you’ll be treated to unforgettable views.

Are you dreaming about an adventure travel vacation in South America? We’d love to help you turn your dream trip into a reality! Give one of our adventure travel advisors a call today.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

March 27, 2019 |

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

If you’ve been dreaming about a fairy tale vacation touring Europe’s epic castles, we have seven happy endings for you. These magical European castle adventures offer the opportunity to make legendary travel memories.

See what’s waiting to be explored in these European castle vacations.

 

7 Epic European Castle Getaways

Rustic hallways, romantic turrets and sweeping landscapes have long wooed adventurous travelers looking to escape the ordinary and experience a little old world charm.

Each of these seven magical European castles offers a unique experience to travelers daring enough to visit them.

 

1. Neuschwanstein Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

Nestled in the dense forests of Bavaria, this German masterpiece tops every must-see castle list. If you’ve only ever seen the Sleeping Beauty version Walt Disney made famous at his theme parks, you’ll be indelibly inspired by the original.

 

2. Bran Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

You don’t have to be a fan of Dracula to delight in the dark beauty of this fortress surrounded by a ring of mountains in Transylvania, Romania. A tour through it’s dimly lit passageways will set the hairs up on the back of your neck, even when it’s not Halloween.

 

3. Chambord Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

If exploring dozens of winding staircases and more than 100 rooms sounds is your idea of an unforgettable vacation, plan a trip to this magical European castle in Loir-Et-Cher, France. After seeing the inside, hike, bike and row your way around the 21-square mile park that completes its stunning grounds.

 

4. Leeds Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

A trip to the so-called “Ladies Castle” in Kent, UK, will not disappoint. Set on two islands in the middle of a lake, this English castle was home to six medieval queens and today offers year-round events and entertainment including a yew tree maze and falconry presentation.

 

5. Windsor Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

While you’re in the UK, see the castle William the Conqueror built in the eleventh century. It’s still the primary castle used by the royal family today and features stunning Gothic style turrets that make it an idyllic getaway for anyone looking for a European castle adventure.

 

6. Pena Palace.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

Take a colorful detour from the imposing castles of central and northern Europe with a tour of this gem in Sintra, Portugal. Alluring red, yellow and blue hues accentuate a blend of Gothic, Moorish and Manueline architecture that prompted renown fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen to dub it, “the most beautiful place in Portugal.”

 

7. Blarney Castle.

7 Magical European Castle Adventures

Some say the best views of Ireland are from the top of this iconic castle in Cork. Take your time climbing the narrow, winding staircase to the top, where you can bring yourself some good luck by kissing the blarney stone. Just remember to pack a decent tip in your pocket for the man bracing your high altitude backward leaning smooch.

 

A majestic European castle adventure is calling. Plan your trip today with one of our experienced travel advisors.

We’d love to help you map out your magical European castle adventure!

11 Beautiful Places in the World to Photograph

March 21, 2019 |

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Seeing all of the most beautiful places in the world and bringing home photographs of them would take ten lifetimes. Still, visiting some of the top ones is a worthwhile endeavor. Here, we give you 11 to start filling up your bucket list.

 

11 of the World’s Most Beautiful Places to Photograph

Not only do each of these travel destinations offer opportunities for fun, relaxation and reflection, but they are also absolutely gorgeous. Let your inner photographer out by planning trips to these 11 beautiful places.

 

1. Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye Danxia, China.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Bring an extra memory card with you to this visual feast. Seeing the red, green, yellow and blue covered mountains is amazing, but when you realize the colors are entirely natural, you’ll begin to question the superiority of Photoshop in creating images of stunning beauty.

 

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

While we’re on the topic of stunning stone formations, don’t overlook the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, right here in the USA.

 

3. Lavender Fields of Provence, France.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

As far as the eye (and camera lens) can see, fragrant purple flowers spread out before you. Along with unforgettable images, you can bring home some sweet-smelling herbs.

 

4. Keukenhof Park, Holland.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

If you love photographing flowers, capturing the rainbow-colored fields of tulips when they bloom in mid-April each year must be on your list of the most beautiful places in the world to photograph.

 

5. Glowworm Caves, Waitomo, New Zealand.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

(Photo by 2il org; located at this link; licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0.)

Do you enjoy stargazing? If so, you’ll love seeing this ‘underground Milky Way.’ Snap a shot of some of the thousands of bioluminescent worm larvae that dot the top of these magnificent subterranean structures.

 

6. Santorini, Greece.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Opa! This destination is not just a great place to relax or enjoy fun with friends. Santorini is one of the most photogenic places in the world. Come here to capture striking images of ancient whitewashed buildings and bright blue roofs.

 

7. Redwood National Park, California, USA.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Another place with otherworldly beauty that’s surprisingly close to home is California’s Redwood National Park. Whether you want to snap a picture of the background for the battle of Endor or feel tiny next to enormous, 2,000-year old giants, this is a must-see spot.

 

8. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

Planet Earth’s largest living ecosystem is best viewed, and photographed, underwater. Snap on a snorkel or get scuba-certified and bring your underwater camera to capture some of the most beautiful beaches and marine life on Earth.

 

9. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

You don’t have to like fairy tales to feel awestruck at Germany’s most famous castle. Visit in September or October for the least-crowded views of this magical landscape.

 

10. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

16 lakes and lagoons flowing into each other with waterfalls hidden around every corner? Yes, please! This water-forward wonderworld is a dream to see and should definitely be on your list of the most beautiful places in the world to photograph.

 

11. Vatnajökull, Iceland.

11 Most Beautiful Places in the World to Travel (And Photograph)

If you don’t mind the cold, embrace Iceland’s largest glacier as the location of some of the most stunning ice formations on earth. Ice caves, volcanoes and frozen canyons are waiting to be explored.

 

This list just barely scratches the surface of the most photogenic places in the world. Let these destinations inspire you to plan your next adventure.

If you’d like some help mapping out your trip, contact our talented team of travel advisors today. We’d love to help you make memories to last a lifetime!

6 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

March 14, 2019 |

6 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

If you’re one of the estimated 34.5 million Americans with Irish ancestry, March 17 is a green letter day for you. New York, Boston and Chicago are some of the best U.S. destinations for celebrating St. Paddy’s Day; all boast large, festive parades and neat traditions (like dying the Chicago River green).

However, if you really want to celebrate your Irish roots, or you just like a good party, you’ll want to check out these tips for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Whether you’re Irish or not, donning green and drinking beer with friends is a time-honored way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. In Ireland, the place to be on this holiday is Dublin. What began as a one-day celebration in Ireland’s capital city has turned into the country’s biggest multi-day festival and one of Europe’s best.

Here are six tips for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland:

1. Watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

This is the parade to end all parades when it comes to St. Paddy’s Day. It’s been likened to Carnival in Rio only colder, with marching bands and colorful puppets.

2 Visit the Guinness Factory. 

Ireland’s most-visited tourist attraction is worth fighting the crowds at on St. Patrick’s Day. The factory throws its own party to celebrate the holiday and it’s one you won’t want to miss. Be sure to spy a view of downtown Dublin from the Guinness Gravity Bar.

3 Walk the Streets St. Patrick Walked. 

Take the road less traveled through Dublin with a walking tour that guides you down the spots that everyone from Celts to Vikings to Normans have called home. Choose a guided tour from a historian or a themed tour that focuses on Dublin’s art, culture, gardens or pub scene.

4 Explore Your Ancestry. 

The National Archives of Ireland is located on Bishop Street and houses an abundance of genealogy information. If you’ve been wanting to reconnect with your Irish roots, add this must-see stop to your itinerary.

5 Get Pinched at an Irish Pub. 

Or avoid this favorite holiday past time by keeping a pint of green beer in your hand. The local pubs are overflowing with history and green beer around St. Patrick’s Day. Set aside time to enjoy one.

6 Get Outside the City. 

Explore Dublin county and take in one of the many St. Patrick’s Day festivals happening there. The town of Skerries hosts a family-friendly festival for St. Patrick’s Day that features international musicians, fireworks and a presentation on St. Patrick himself.

Our travel advisors are here to help you plan the perfect St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland! Contact us today to get started.

9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

March 6, 2019 |

9 Tips for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take unforgettable travel pics. In fact, all you need to catalog your journeys is your smartphone. Technology has made that mini computer in your pocket a powerful tool for capturing all your travel moments.

If you want to bring home more than mental memories from your next trip, use these nine tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone.

Strategies for Taking Unforgettable Travel Pics with Your Smartphone

1. Find a focus. When you turn your smartphone camera on, it will automatically focus on whatever is in the foreground. If you want to focus on something in the background or in another particular part of your screen, tap on the part of the screen where you want the camera to focus.

While we’re on the topic of focus, try to pick one subject to focus on in each shot. Tapping that subject on your smartphone screen will help the camera optimize lighting and movement for that subject and should result in a better picture.

2. Capture casual shots. Mix in at least a few images that don’t involve people looking at the lens. You’ll get a mixture of posed shots and candid emotions that will make for a more interesting scrapbook or realistic collage of your trip.

Pro tip: “If you’re on a trip visiting many places, take a picture of the name of where you are (i.e., Brandenberg Gate). You may not think you would forget, but once you return, it can become quite confusing to remember. I even take pictures of the hotels and other information to remember upon my return.” — Travel Advisor Lisa Salloum

3. Use a third-party camera app. Your smartphone comes with some pretty good software, but adding a third-party camera app will give you more advanced features like filters, tools, white balance adjustment and the option to shoot RAW (uncompressed) footage that you can perform advanced editing on back home.

4. Practice the principle of fours. With such a powerful tool in your pocket, it’s easy to keep your smartphone in your hand, with the camera app on all the time. The downside to this is that you may not be as present as you’d like on your actual trip and you end up with more pictures than you need. The principle of fours can help you get enough shots to capture the highlights of your trip without being a slave to your smartphone. Make it your goal to capture every setting on your trip with just four shots. Once you have them, put your phone away and enjoy the activity!

5. Use the rule of thirds. Your smartphone has a handy little feature called grids or gridlines within its built-in camera app. Use them to frame out more interesting and dynamic shots. The rule of thirds is the idea that a photo splits into three sections vertically and horizontally into nine total parts. Framing something of interest along these lines results in a more compelling, balanced and engaging shot.

6. Put your phone on airplane mode when you’re getting ready to take a shot. This way you won’t have your perfect picture interrupted by a call, text or email notification.

7. Instead of selfies, ask a stranger to take your photo. You’ll get a better image, meet some locals and just may have a story or two to take home.

8. Don’t zoom. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s better to get more of your surroundings in the frame than to crop it out with your smartphone’s zoom feature. Instead, edit, zoom and crop to your heart’s content when you return home.

9. Embrace empty space. We started on focus and we’re ending on it as well because it’s the most important compositional element of a photo. Empty or ‘negative’ space is just the area around your subject. Including a lot of negative space around your subject will help your eye focus on your subject, which will result in a more compelling, engaging and visually stimulating photograph.

 

There are many more tips for taking unforgettable travel pics with your smartphone. This list barely scratches the surface. For more tips, check out this list from Hubspot or do a Google search on the topic.

For help planning your next getaway, give one of our travel advisors a call or connect online today. We look forward to helping you find the perfect location for your next photo shoot!

7 Dreamy Destination Wedding Locations

February 27, 2019 |

7 Dreamy Destination Wedding Locations

Whether you want to ski the slopes with your new spouse and a few of your closest family and friends or tie the knot on a far off beach somewhere with your entire wedding party, planning a destination wedding begins and ends with three things — location, location, location.

Here are seven dreamy destination wedding locations to make your special day absolutely unforgettable.

 

1. Hawaii. If coconuts are calling your name, answer them with a destination wedding in Hawaii. While it may be overlooked by some since it is part of the United States, Hawaii is every bit as exotic and tropical as other, more remote or international islands. Best of all, booking your destination wedding here won’t require a passport.

2. Costa RicaIf you want to take your destination wedding planning to an international location and still want to hold it on a beach, consider Costa Rica. This country is not only friendly to Americans but boasts some of the best beaches and ecotourism spots in the world.

3. MoroccoMarrakech has made Morocco a popular destination wedding spot for celebrities as of late, but you don’t have to be a star to have an unforgettable wedding here. If bohemia and old world architecture are your fancy, Morocco could be the perfect spot for your destination wedding.

4. AspenThe Rocky Mountains make an enormously scenic backdrop for any wedding photo, but if you are a ski aficionado, you will fall in love with Aspen. Its luxurious mountain lodges and world-famous ski resorts are just a short drive away from Denver, making this destination wedding an easy one for your guests to get to.

5. Turks and Caicos. If you want to hold your wedding in a truly exotic locale that has a faraway island feel, the undeveloped and sparsely populated islands of Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean will satisfy your desire.

6. TuscanyWant to tie the knot in wine country? If so, Tuscany is the perfect place for you. Nestled along Italy’s western coast, Tuscany’s rustic, romantic vibe pairs perfectly with its world-class wine and cuisine.

7. Caribbean/MexicoThese two regions are not only easily accessible, but they also offer idyllic tropical backdrops for a beachside destination wedding. Explore Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or Riviera Maya as possible settings for saying, ‘I do.’

 

Deciding when to go and planning out all the details of a destination wedding can be overwhelming. Let one of our experienced Travel Advisors take some of the stress off your shoulders.

We’ll make sure you have all the documents and details covered so you can get hitched without a hitch.

Ask a Travel Advisor: What are Your Best Spring Break Tips?

February 20, 2019 |

Best Spring Break Trip Tips from Travel Experts

Winter isn’t coming — winter is here. If you’ve been daydreaming about a spring getaway, our Travel Advisors JoAnna Gonseth and Andrea Keiderling-Fehl have the best spring break trip tips to satiate your wanderlust!

They’ve got the insider track from how to book the right trip for you to where to go, whether you’re jetting away on the fly or want to plan the perfect trip with your entourage for next spring.

Check out their tips below and give JoAnna, Andrea or any of our advisors a call today to start planning your trip:

 

What makes a great spring break destination?

JoAnna: “When I think of Spring Break I think sun, sand, and clear water. Spring Break falls in a time of year that is typically cold for most areas around the United States, so it is a perfect time to head to a tropical oasis with warm water and amazing beaches.”

Andrea: “I think what makes a great spring break destination is what gives the travelers what they want as a departure from the reality they have been living in during the winter months and to kick off their spring transition. Not all travelers are looking for the sun and the sand.

Some travelers are just requesting a change of environment to a new destination or experience. I would have to say, though, that after a polar vortex an easy, 86-degree average on a beach with a frozen fruit drink in your hand is what the majority of the travel requests suggest.”

 

What are some off-the-beaten-path spots that may not be crawling with other spring breakers?

JoAnna: “Typically all of the major sun and sand destinations will have an increase in travelers including the traditional young Spring Breakers; not to omit the families and teachers that will also be traveling for their break at that time. Optional destinations that will work for a unique Spring Break experience would be touring a major city, a spa destination like Arizona, or exploring Southern California. These seem to be popular demands when travelers are looking for something more than the typical Mexico, Caribbean, or Florida.”

Andrea: “The areas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands are low key, local spots great for a getaway.  European cities such as Paris, Brussels, and Athens are great spots that are not during their peak tourist travel seasons and are great values during Spring Break.”

 

What are your top 3 tips for planning a spring break getaway?

JoAnna: “Plan ahead so you do not risk the high pricing of a last minute Spring Break trip. (Look for) quality over price as many destinations will advertise very inexpensive vacations but may not be up to standards as typically the prices rise at recommended properties. Choose a close destination, you don’t want to spend too much time traveling versus enjoying your vacation.”

Andrea: “Plan early for availability reasons, being mindful of the busy travel time which causes congestion, and look for value.”

 

Is a cruise a good idea for a spring break trip? Why or why not?

JoAnna: “Spring Break is typically a week long, so time is limited making your destination choice important. A cruise shorter than 7 days could work as this would give enough time to arrive a day early to avoid any missed cruise departures. A standard 7-day cruise would be very hard to fit in a scheduled Spring Break week.”

Andrea: “I think they are a good idea for the right traveler.  A cruise has its own vacation schedule and itinerary for you to follow but a great experience to enjoy multiple destinations on one vacation for one price.”

 

Wherever you’re going, we’ll be there to help. Learn more about JoAnna, Andrea or any of our advisors and contact them today to start planning your trip — whether you’re looking for sun and surf or something else. Adventure awaits!

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations to Leave Ordinary Life Behind

February 14, 2019 |

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations

The world is your oyster when it comes to planning a romantic destination vacation. From wine-country getaways to relaxing beach retreats, a host of exotic locations are waiting to be savored.

 

Top 10 Romantic Travel Destinations

Some places are so lovely that simply being in them sparks romantic desire. Where, specifically, that destination is for you depends on your preferences and what you find appealing.

If you’re not sure which romantic travel destination will light your fire, browse this list and contact one of our travel advisors to map out your getaway.

1. Escape the Ordinary in Bora Bora. After just minutes in this exotic French Polynesian island, your everyday life will feel light years away.

2. Unwind in Napa Valley. Uncork a bottle of wine and sip in the pleasure of trying fine wine paired with even finer food.

3. Unlock Adventure in France. Ancient ruins, romantic castles and French cuisine are the stuff of legend and the makings for an unforgettable romantic retreat.

4. Set Your Spirit Soaring in Telluride. If adventure gets your blood pumping, you’ll love spending a day on the slopes together before retreating to romantic, candlelight evenings in your warm, wood cabin.

5. Slow Things Down in Savannah. If you live in the U.S., you don’t have to leave its borders to take a step back in time; visit Savannah, Georgia to experience a slower, more sensual pace of life.

6. Breathe Deeply in Spain. Take a siesta in the country known for them. Slow the pace of life and reconnect over tapas together.

7. Explore Beaches in Bali. Stunning beauty abounds in the white sand shorelines of Bali. Feel some between your toes as the sea washes your stress away.

8. Get Exotic in India. Discover each other in one of southern India’s otherworldly resorts.

9. Enjoy a Rustic Retreat in Nova Scotia. If you enjoy French culture, you’ll love exploring its rocky outcrops and sharing close moments together in candlelit bistros.

10. Grow Closer Together in Greece. Islands dotting Greece’s landscape provide miles of uncharted shoreline with beaches and tiny towns just begging for a moonlight stroll.

Whether you are planning your honeymoon or looking for a romantic adventure, these top romantic travel destinations and more are waiting to be discovered. Connect with a travel advisor today to begin your adventure.

What is Wave Season?

February 6, 2019 |

What is Wave Season?

What is Wave Season?

Wave season is the best time to receive added value on a cruise. It starts in January and runs through the end of March and it’s the ideal time to take action if you’ve been thinking about booking a cruise.

What Makes Wave Season Special

Cruise lines release their best specials and most incentives during wave season. These offers can include:

  •      Complimentary airfare
  •      Complimentary cabin upgrades
  •      Complimentary perks like beverage packages
  •      Discounted cruise fares or buy one get one free deals
  •      Kids sail complimentary offers

Whether you’ve been thinking about taking a quick 3-day trip to the Bahamas or a 7-day cruise to Europe, booking your cruise between January and March may allow you to maximize your vacation and enjoy additional perks or upgrades.

Use Wave Season to Explore the Benefits of Cruising

Maybe you are booking a cruise for the first time and aren’t sure where to go or what type of cruise to take. Cruising has many benefits that make them excellent vacations, including:

  •      Fantastic way to explore international destinations
  •      Variety of cultures and ports of call
  •      Lots of activities and dining options
  •      Wonderful wellness amenities (onboard and off)
  •      Excellent value

One of the things that makes cruising such an ideal vacation option is the ability to tailor your experience to what you enjoy. Whether you want to relax by the pool with a book or explore a new city, a cruise puts all kinds of activities and leisure options within reach.

Maximize the Value of Cruising with a Wave Season Booking

Cruise fares are often all-inclusive or nearly all-inclusive, meaning all of the cost of your food, lodging, entertainment, transportation and on-ship activities are included in the fare.

Typically, the only extra expenses you need to plan for are alcoholic drinks and any excursions you may choose to try at your ports of call. This makes cruises an excellent value since transportation, meals and entertainment tend to add up on vacations.

When you book your cruise during wave season, you add more value to your cruise fare since you are more likely to get the fare at a discounted price, or have items like drinks or excursions added in at no additional cost.

Whether you are planning your first cruise or branching out into a river cruise, exploring your options with an experienced and knowledgeable Travel Advisor can help ensure you get the cruise of your dreams at an unbelievable price.

Contact Travel and Transport today to book your next cruise while it’s still wave season!

Top Traveler Safety Tips for Corporate and Vacation Travel

January 30, 2019 |

Top Traveler Safety Tips

Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, it’s never a bad idea to review safe travel behaviors before you leave. Travel experts agree common sense is the most important thing to bring on your trip. Below are just a few helpful reminders to ensure your next travel experience is as seamless as possible.

Before Traveling:

  • Make an ID card for yourself with your name, age, blood group and other important information such as allergies and medical conditions (and do the same for children) in the event that someone in your group should require emergency treatment.
  • Be aware of pre-travel vaccinations and health precautions recommended by health professionals. The Center for Disease Control has a website travelers will find to be useful.
  • Make copies of your itinerary and/or passport information and leave copies at home with friends or family. Additionally, take a photo of your passport information and keep it in a secure location on your smartphone.
  • Consider using your work address and phone number for luggage tags, as opposed to your home information.
  • If traveling internationally, review country-specific information and travel alerts at the State Department’s website travel.state.gov.
  • Register your international trip with the State Department via their Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Pack all prescription medications in original, labeled containers to expedite the airport security process. Pack extra medications in case you are away longer than expected. See this guide to international travel with medication from Travel and Transport partner WorldAware.
  • Be aware of local laws and customs of your travel destination, as you will be subject to the local laws.

While Traveling:

  • Take a picture of your traveling companion and any children first thing in the morning. In the event of an emergency, you can remember what they were wearing and can give the picture to police to quickly distribute to help in the search.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry. Keep valuables in the hotel safe or do not travel with jewelry.
  • Be wary of pickpockets in heavily congested areas. Women should wear cross-body purses with the strap across the chest. Men should avoid putting their wallet in a back pocket and instead, carry it in a front pocket or a jacket pocket.
  • If confronted, do not fight. Give up your valuables.
  • Keep a business card of the hotel to show cab drivers.
  • Match your apparel with locals. Dress to blend in, and avoid carrying money in a fanny pack.
  • Identify fire exits in your hotel and have an emergency plan and meeting place for all traveling companions.
  • Pack a small flashlight/solar charger in the event that power is lost.
  • Avoid political demonstrations, rallies and large crowds that may become violent.
  • In the event you find yourself in an emergency situation, the US Department of State’s emergency website can be used as a resource to locate the nearest embassy or consulate, report a lost or stolen passport or contact overseas citizens services.

Traveling can be a wonderful experience, but it is important to remember these details in order to have a safe trip. Please share additional travel tips that you feel are beneficial for the traveling public!

Why River Cruises are Hot Right Now

January 23, 2019 |

Why River Cruises Are Hot Right Now

Those planning vacation getaways might want to look into taking a river cruise. According to a state of the industry report in January 2014 by the Cruise Lines International Association, river cruises are gaining in popularity.

According to the group’s December 2013 survey of 500 CLIA agents, 61.3 percent of clients were interested in river cruising. CLIA CEO Christine Duffy said in a February 2013 Market Watch article that river cruises had a 10 percent annual increase in passengers, while the increase across the cruise industry was up only about 7 percent.

In fact, the rise in interest in river cruising is so steep that operators are having trouble keeping up with demand. In 2012, Viking added six new ships and 10 more in 2013. Avalon added two new ships in 2013 and a new route on the Yangtze River in China. Additionally, Tauck is adding two ships in 2014.

Though they each have their perks, river cruises and ocean cruises have many differences. You might prefer a river cruise if:

You value intimacy.

River cruises seldom have capacity for more than 200 passengers, and they might have as few as 120. Aside from allowing you to avoid the crowds and lines you might find on an ocean-traveling ship with 3,000 other passengers, river cruises with fewer than 200 folks aboard allow you the chance to socialize. In fact, they almost force socialization, as room service is rare and you share tables with others when you dine. You might even meet like-minded people with whom to explore!

You want a more cultured experience.

River cruises are often a bit more costly than ocean-going cruises, and they also don’t have room for the giant pools, water slides, rock-climbing walls and children’s play areas that appeal to families on ocean cruise ships. In fact, the boom in river cruising has been spurred on by older adults. It’s a quieter time – don’t expect casinos, either – but this is appealing to many people who are most interested in the sights, sounds and culture.

You want to spend more time on land.

On ocean cruise ships, you will often spend a few days at sea between ports, but many people enjoy this because the ocean cruise ship is like a floating party boat, with a myriad of exciting activities. But if you’re more interested in cultural attractions, architecture and the vibe of a foreign city, a river cruise is for you. The ships stop at a new port every day, so you’ll always have time to spend on land. Additionally, the scenery changes more frequently, and is often more exciting than spending days at sea!

You get seasick easily.

Thankfully, there are fewer waves on the rivers – if any – so people prone to seasickness will have smoother travels on a river cruise than an ocean-faring one!

You appreciate inclusive pricing.

Many river cruises are more inclusive than ocean ships. You pay more upfront, but oftentimes, shore excursions are included in pricing, which might be a guided tour of famous attractions or a walking tour of the town, though you’re welcome to venture out on your own. Also, the majority of river cruises offer free drinks and WiFi free of charge as well.

River cruises and on-land excursions are more likely to take you off the beaten path. Popular river cruises in Europe include the Rhine, which travels through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland; the Danube through Germany; and on France’s Seine River. China is popular for its Yangtze River cruises, and the Mississippi River in the U.S. is another popular spot for vacation getaways.

Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

January 15, 2019 |

Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

Maybe you frequently embark on domestic business travel but have never been abroad and thus had no reason to get a passport in the past. But now you’re ready to plan a cruise for a relaxing sun-soaked getaway and the question arises: “Do I need a passport to take a cruise?” The short answer is, “It depends,” but the answer that requires a lengthier explanation is “Definitely.” Here’s why:

Closed-loop cruises

There are some quirky laws dating back to the late 1800s that still determine the routes cruise ships are able to take today and whether they can arrive at a different port in the United States than where they started. According to the law, U.S. citizens who take closed-loop cruises – that return to the same U.S. port from which they started – do not need legally need a passport. Instead, they can embark on the cruise with their original birth certificate and a photo ID.

However, though it’s not required by the government or cruise lines, it’s highly recommended that you have a passport before hopping on a cruise. Some cruise lines even require it as their own policy. Here are the reasons why:

Caribbean port requirements

Though the U.S. government doesn’t require a passport for closed-loop cruise travel, it’s possible that a Caribbean island that you are docking in, for example, will require you have a passport to enter their country. Passengers are responsible for finding out this information on their own by checking with the travel agent, cruise ship or destination country.

In case of injury

Another instance where it’s vital to have a passport is if you are injured in a country and cannot return to the ship. In that case, you will not be allowed to fly out of the country you are in without a passport! Though this is unlikely to happen, it’s often wise to plan for the worst.

In case you fail to disembark

In some instances, if you are late and miss boarding the ship, you will be allowed to fly to the cruise ship’s first foreign port of call and meet your cruise there. However, you will be required to have a passport to fly. The same is true if you miss boarding the ship in a docking point – you’ll need that passport to catch a plane out of the country.

Thus, it’s highly recommended – vital, even – to have a passport for any type of cruise you take, just to be on the safe side so your vacation getaways are not ruined by poor planning!

Applying for a passport

If you’ve never had a passport before, you must apply in person. You can apply for your passport at most post offices in the U.S., and it generally takes between four to six weeks to receive your official passport, so make sure to get it early! If you’ve had a passport in the past and it has expired you may be able to renew by mail. Here’s more information about applying for your U.S. passport, including how much it costs and photo requirements.

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

January 9, 2019 |

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

When planning vacation getaways, it can be stressful deciding where to go. Travelers have to decide between going far from home or staying close and even whether they will opt for a domestic destination or head to an international hot spot.

Travel + Leisure recently compiled a list of some of the world’s best destinations among travelers. Only two U.S. cities made the list, and the others are all international locations.

 

  1. Travel + Leisure readers voted Kyoto, Japan, to be the world’s best destination. The city is an ancient imperial capital that’s home to the month-long Gion Festival that’s more than 1,000 years old. There is also the World Heritage Tours Bus that will take visitors around to see the numerous historical and cultural sites.
  2. Perhaps a surprising U.S. city to make the list is Charleston, South Carolina. This Southern city is a former colonial seaport that is home to antebellum mansions, a fresh seafood scene and a vast cultural background.
  3. Florence, Italy, offers a long list of cultural sites for travelers including Uffizi. If you want to venture through the city’s museums, admission is free on Sunday to those that are state-run.
  4. Siem Reap in Cambodia is a world-class adventure travel destination. You can go horseback riding through the city, visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum or head to nearby Kompong Pluk’s flooded rainforest.
  5. Rome has long been a top destination for travelers who want to see the world thanks to its ancient sights. The Colosseum is perhaps the most popular of all the city’s landmarks, but Rome is full of cultural activities, free concerns and children’s programs.
  6. Istanbul is home to one of the most breathtaking sites in the world, the Blue Mosque. The city is located at the junction of Asia and Europe and has a vast history. It’s home to museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace as well as the Istanbul Hippodrome, the Grand Bazaar and the sunken palace of Basilica Cistern.
  7. Seville is the fourth largest city in Spain and is known for its Mudejar heritage that dates back to the medieval period. There’s also a Sephardic Jewish legacy in the city that you can learn more about on one of many walking tours.
  8. Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors including a beautiful setting on the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a wonderful public transportation system to help you get around to see the distinctive architecture and taste the Spanish cuisine.
  9. Mexico City is full of museums and is home to beautiful architecture and cultural treasures. You can visit sites such as the Revolution Monument and National Museum in the Plaza de la Republica or just mingle with the locals on the city streets.
  10. New Orleans is just one of the two U.S. cities to make the list. There are summertime festivals including San Fermin in New Orleans, Satchmo Summer Fest and the COOLinary New Orleans Festival that allows guests to dive into the Crescent City’s culture.

 

Best U.S. Destinations
For those who prefer to stay in the U.S., check out some of these top destinations:

  • Visitors will feel like they’re in an entirely different world when they visit Maui. This island in Hawaii offers breathtaking scenery, some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and fresh seafood that’s to die for.
  • Boston is the cultural capital of New England and boasts many historic sights including landmarks from the Revolutionary War. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile history lesson and a must-see for those who want to take a step back in time to see the early beginnings of the country.
  • Yellowstone National Park is a must-see when heading out on a vacation. There are geysers, multicolored pools, bubbling hot springs and hiking trails that go on for miles.
  • Washington, D.C., is the perfect place to really dive into American history. As the nation’s capital, it’s home to monuments that are free to visit as well as an exciting nightlife.